It is a year since the failure of one of America’s most historic banks – Lehman Brothers – a day seen by many as the start of the global financial crisis.
September 14, 2008, and staff began filing out of their offices, carrying with them boxes full of personal possessions. In just six months, Lehman Brothers had lost around six billion dollars – that is more than four billion euros. They had lent too much to high risk customers. And they were not the only ones. Wall Street trader Jonathan Corpina said: “When you look back on it now, a year later, the writing was on the wall.” Another trader, Jason Weisberg added: “It was absolutely exhausting to come into work and it was mentally punishing.” Wall Street, and America’s biggest banks have bounced back in recent weeks, with the help of hundreds of billions in government cash injections. Alan Valdes, who is also a trader on Wall Street, recalled: “You’d go home on a Friday with Bear Stearns. You’d come back Monday and they’d be out of business. You’d go home Friday with Merrill, you’d come back Monday and they’d be gone. No one ever dreamed of seeing days like that and I hope we never see them again.” And it is not just the US that has been suffering. The knock-on effect has seen European economies plunged into the deepest economic slump since the great depression. And though Germany and France are showing positive signs, economists warn there are still painful times ahead.